Before you start your search for houses or flats for rent
1. Think about your budget.
Every search for flats for rent needs to start here. Understand what you can afford to spend each month and don’t forget to allow for bills! Also, in London, some property rents are listed in weekly amounts.
How can you calculate your monthly rent when listed weekly?
Take the weekly rent: ex. £600pw
Multiply by 52 weeks in a year: ex. £600 x 52 wks = £31,200 per year
Divide that figure by 12 months in a year: £31,200/12 = £2,600pm
Don’t forget to calculate a budget for transportation to and from work or school. In London, transport can easily be £100+ per month depending on what zone you live in.
*Check out one of our favourite apps Citymapper to help you understand all the different ways to travel. Citymapper will also tell you approximate travel time and cost.
2. Have a general idea of where you want to live (think about the commute!)
London is a huge city and life varies a lot based on what neighborhood you choose to live in. This page can help you determine which neighborhood is the right one for you. When thinking about where to find a flats or houses for rent, think about where you need to go.
Consider where your friends, family or work/university are located.
3. Decide what is more important, property or location.
All houses and flats for rent searches are driven by these two criteria. In an expensive city like London, you will likely need to compromise on one of these criteria.
Maybe you found your dream flat but it’s not in the right location.
Maybe you found a house in the perfect location but it’s not the standard of property you are looking for.
Think about what is most important for you in your search. Don’t expect to find houses or flats for rent that are not only the perfect property but also in the perfect location. Compromise!
4. Know what you want & need
Are you willing to bunk up or do you need your own room? Do you have a pet? Know things that you are definitely NOT willing to live with. Don’t waste time in your search for flats or houses for rent in properties that definitely won’t work. Especially if you are working with an estate agent, make sure you communicate your expectations about a property.
If you would never live in a ground-floor flat- tell your agent!
If you need to park a car- tell your agent.
An agent can only help you if she/he knows what you need and want. The more informed they are the better.
*Just don’t go too crazy- £200 pw won’t get you a place with a swimming pool in London.
5. Understand your Rights & Responsibilities
Many groups are actively working to help improve the rental market in the UK. However, it is vital that, as a tenant, you understand both your rights and responsibilities during all aspects of renting a flat or house.
There is a lot of information available but one of the best sources for tenants is www.thetenantsvoice.co.uk.
This site is extremely helpful because it allows you to do (free) short (5-10 mins) online courses. These courses can help you understand what rights you are granted as a renter.
When you’re visiting the property:
6. If you are using an Estate Agent, make sure you deal with reputable one.
There are loads of great agents out there, so don’t get stung by using a bad one. You ideally want an agent that is a member of ARLA/NALS/RICS (these are voluntary professional regulators). You should also ensure any agent you use protects your rent & deposits with CMP (Client Money Protection). Agents that do will usually be members of SAFEAgent.
7. Ask Questions
Never assume anything about a property! If the property you want has a heavily marked wall, don’t assume it will be repainted- ask if it will/can be. Agents should disclose all fees on the website and marketing.
That being said, always ensure you understand all the costs in renting a property with that agent. These fees can include: reference & admin fees, inventory and check-in/out, end of tenancy, renewal, change of tenant, etc.
Also, remember to ask about the contract and its major terms. For example, never assume a tenancy comes with a Break Clause as this is often not standard.
8. Confirm everything in writing
Make sure you actually read through any document you sign! All key matters before you sign the lease on any house of flats for rent need to be communicated in writing. This is proof in case there is any conflict in the future. It is important to even discuss the little things. For example, if the landlord said that you will be able to put nails in the wall for pictures, make sure you have that documented!
9. Be reasonable about your expectations in a landlord or estate agents
A landlord or estate agent are people too so make sure you treat them like one. They are responsible to keep you informed on an issue and solve a problem as swiftly as possible. The key is don’t set unrealistic expectations.
If an oven breaks at 4:30 on a Friday, don’t expect someone to come fix it that same evening. If an appliance breaks, it may take multiple visits for it to get fixed. It is not always feasible to have a solution the first time the come.
10. Use tech tools to help your search
There are loads of tools that can help you when looking for houses or flats for rent. These include: Citymapper; Zoopla; Hype; Deliveroo;Laundrapp; Hubbub; Movebubble; Spareroom; Zipcar & Zipvan; Splittable
More resources for finding flats for rent.
These helpful tips were provided by Kristjan Byfield, Company Director and Co-Founder of Base Property Specialists. Base Property Specialists is an estate agency and property company based in Shoreditch, London.